Down through the decades IBM has achieved technological success and earned wide customer acceptance with such offerings as the IBM 1401 Data Processing System, System/360, IBM Personal Computer, AS/400 midrange computer and System/390 large server.
Yet not every product brought to market by the company over the years has been a best seller -- sometimes intentionally so. From time to time, IBM has developed a variety of unique offerings that were intended in some cases to demonstrate the feasibility of an emerging technology or to meet the special needs of a very narrow marketplace. In other cases, later developments in IBM laboratories and within the industry supplanted these unique products with even better solutions.
The stories behind IBM's "special products" provide a novel perspective from which to view the history of information technology. Here now is a retrospective look -- the first in a series -- on some of those offerings.